Kingboy, how do you know?

by Purple Wyrm on December 4, 2011

I was (as I commonly am) feeling a bit bored at work the other day and decided that the ideal thing I needed to perk me up was to listen to Porpoise Song from the seminal (and only) JAMS collection, History of the JAMS. I mean who wouldn’t be energised by the sound of a dolphin squawking  Billy Jean? So to YouTube I went!

I quickly located the Porpoise Song and whacked it on. It turned out to be nothing like I expected.

This is a common problem when dealing with the KLF. Their general method of music production was to come up with a song, create a dozen different mixes of it, release half of them on severely limited run vinyl, chop the rest up into samples and build new tracks out of them, release those on various different albums and call all of them by the same name! This means that when you get your hands on a K Foundation track you never quite know if it’s the one you expect.

This was not the one I expected, but it was still awesome – as is to be expected from  anything by the Timelords.

After listening to Kingboy D’s tale of the high seas six or seven times I decided I’d actually like to know what he was carrying on about and did a search for the lyrics. I found them, and discovered that – as is so often the case – the only ones available online were severely deficient. So, I decided the only thing to do was transcribe them myself.

This was no easy task. Sound effects of crashing waves and stormy seas combined with Bill’s thick Clydeside accent make parts of the track almost completely incomprehensible. But I’ve done my best. Parts that I’m not sure of are indicated in square brackets – some of which contain absolute gibberish, but it’s at least gibberish that sounds like whatever he’s rapping. So, enjoy!

(2015 Edit: Thanks to BeeblePete for his suggestions which have been incorporated below)

PORPOISE SONG
The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu

Kingboy Kingboy,
Kingboy, what’s it all about?
You talk in riddles, talk in rhyme,
Make no sense to the dumb and blind,
When you gonna learn?
That it’s time to go?

For fourteen days and fourteen nights we’d trawl those northern seas,
Six of us and a [galley pot and night in front of us],
I was just nineteen, a boy aboard, Jack London was my stuff,
The rest of the crew were all bucky men but the skipper was named MacDuff,

In the cold and wet, the dark and rough, the work was never done,
For every four hours the chain bell rang with another catch to run,
Then knee deep in fish that were gasping their last and us with our blades in hand,
We’d slit their throats and clean their guts and laugh at those on land,

One night alone and up on deck beyond Bill Bailey’s Bank,
Just me, my soul and the roar of the [scuds] and the swirling black below,
Wet with spray and numb with cold and fresh bile in my throat,
I was counting the hours back to Peterhead and the youth years lost afloat,

The draw of the deep has a mighty strong arm and me, I was playing to win,
As we wrestled there on the starboard [side my soul was relieved from sin],
And through the chunder of diesel power and crumbling cliffs of [search],
I heard a cry and a sweet lament, a clarion call so strange,

Kingboy, Kingboy,
Kingboy, what’s it all about?
You talk in riddles, talk in rhyme,
Make no sense to the dumb and blind
When you gonna learn?
That it’s time to go?
It’s time to go,
It’s time to go,

The porpoise is a mighty beast, black and sleek and wild,
And there that night I chanced to meet far from the banks of the Clyde,
And this is what he sang to me as he leapt from wave to wave,
“Claim your crown and join the JAMs the world is there to save”,

Kingboy, Kingboy,
Kingboy, what’s it all about?
(Yeah, sometimes I know, it’s all so clear…)
You talk in riddles, talk in rhyme,
Make no sense to the dumb and blind
When you gonna learn?
That it’s time to go?
(Go? Where?)
It’s time to go,
(I’m already there…)
It’s time to go,

So here we are at the end of the year like monkeys to perform!
With an neat scratch here and a sample there and a [stand] to match your rhyme,
The twists and turns and [choice] of fate has left us what we are,
Well I’m a king! I’ve made my choice! Now let’s get tae the bar!

Kingboy, Kingboy,
Kingboy, what’s it all about?
You talk in riddles, talk in rhyme,
Make no sense to the dumb and blind,
When you gonna learn?
That it’s time to go?
(Are you takin’ me?)
It’s time to go,
It’s time to go,

Kingboy, Kingboy,
Kingboy, what’s it all about?
Kingboy, Kingboy,
Kingboy, what’s it all about?
Kingboy, Kingboy,
Kingboy, what’s it all about?
Kingboy, Kingboy,
Kingboy, how do you know?

Interesting footnote: Whereas the English pronounce “porpoise” and “tortoise” as “por-poys” and “tor-toys” we Australians say “por-pus” and “tor-tus”. Hmmmm.

6 comments

Hmm, actually I’d go with your pronunciation of both of those 🙂

by Mark on December 5, 2011 at 5:32 AM. Reply #

And once again it’s shown that I know absolutely nothing about language 😀

by Purple Wyrm on December 5, 2011 at 6:18 AM. Reply #

I’ve recently got the same surprise! What a great track.

I’ve had a go at the puzzle with good quality in my earbuds but even so, ‘youth years’ took me multiple replays and I googled up Scotland a bit, too. (I’m an American Londoner)

Here’s what I’ve got:

Make no sense to the dumb and blind
(I think you’ve got that right.)

For every four hours the chain bell rang with another catch to run,
As in ‘catch of the day’

Then knee deep in fish that were gasping their last and us with our blades in hand,

One night alone and up on deck beyond Bill Bailey’s Bank,
“Bill Bailey’s Bank is named after a fishing skipper, probably from Milford Haven”
http://www.edinburghgeolsoc.org/edingeologist/z_33_06.html

Just me, my soul and the roar of the spirits and the swirling black below

I was counting the hours back to Peterhead and the youth years lost afloat,
Peterhead was founded by fishermen

And through the chunder of diesel power and crumbling cliffs of [surge?],
It sounds like ‘search’ but that makes no sense. Maybe it’s a place name amid the Longhaven Cliffs natural reserve near Peterhead.

Claim your crown and join the JAMs the world is there to save
I’m hearing an ‘s’ after ‘jam’ in my copy

With a neat scratch here and a sample there and a [stand?] to match your rhyme,

The twists and turns and [choice?] of fate have left us what we are

by Peter on March 15, 2015 at 9:30 AM. Reply #

Nice work! I’ll update the lyrics when I have a minute. Thanks for contributing!

by Purple Wyrm on March 16, 2015 at 8:08 AM. Reply #

P.S. There’s a talking porpoise from Atlantis in The Illuminatus Trilogy. He’s called Howard.

by Peter on March 15, 2015 at 10:09 AM. Reply #

You’re right! I haven’t read Illuminatus in years, but I reckon that could be where the inspiration for this track came from, what with all the other RAW references in the JAMs’ work.

by Purple Wyrm on March 16, 2015 at 8:09 AM. Reply #

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